Allow comparative advertising: Cell C
The mobile operator wants to be able to compare its products and prices directly with its rivals in its advertising campaigns. By Duncan McLeod.
The network operator’s chief commercial officer, Jose Dos Santos, says the ban on comparative advertising is bad for consumers and for the economy. He was speaking at the launch of a new advertising campaign for Cell C at its Sandton head office on Monday.
“It’s a real shame we can’t do comparative advertising in South Africa,” Dos Santos says. “The kind of ad we are producing should be: ‘[Other operators] have ripped off consumers for the past 20 years, this is what you’re paying [them]. You now have an option, which is 99c/minute.’ But you can’t say that. The agency and marketing team had to spend many hours trying to figure out how to get this message across without contravening South African laws.”
He says that comparative advertising in the US works well and helps grease the wheels of that economy.
Dos Santos says consumers have a right to the information that Cell C wants to use in its advertising campaigns but can’t because of legislation.
He says the operator would like to run ads with the call centre numbers for Vodacom and MTN, challenging consumers to call them and demand to know how much they’re paying for their calls.
Advertising guru Chris Moerdyk agrees with Dos Santos and says the fact that comparative advertising is not allowed is a “tragedy”.
“The fact that we don’t have direct comparative advertising is literally not allowing the consumer to make a proper choice and it’s anti-consumer,” he says. “Cell C is absolutely right. There is no question: it should be allowed.”
Moerdyk explains that it’s the Trade Marks Act which bans it rather than any agreement between advertisers. The act prohibits companies from using competitors’ trade marks in their advertising, or anywhere else for that matter.
“I cannot speak strongly enough about how this puts consumers at an enormous disadvantage, and it’s been going on for decades. It’s an absolute tragedy.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media